Sexual health needs of young gay men: increasing the coverage of sexual health programs
Those aged 30 to 45 years have been the main target of recent sexual health programs for gay men in Australia. However, current surveillance data indicate a possible increase in HIV notifications among younger gay men. Gathering information on age-related differences in sexual health needs among gay men is pivotal to understanding the current context and informing sexual health programs.
Using data from the online survey How much do you care?* researchers Philippe Adam, John de Wit, Jorlijn Hermans, Chris Bourne, Douglas Knox, Yves Calmette and Julia Purchas compared sexual risk-taking, HIV/STIs testing, HIV/STI knowledge, and exposure to sexual health campaigns between young gay men (16–26 years) and older gay men (27 years and older). Results revealed that while younger gay men reported similar rates of unprotected anal intercourse as older gay men, their HIV/STI knowledge was lower and almost three out of ten had
never been tested for HIV/STIs. Poor knowledge and low testing rates among younger gay men seem to be related to lack of exposure to HIV campaigns reported by almost a quarter. The findings provide new insights into the sexual health needs of younger gay men: increasing the coverage of sexual health promotion among them may be required. Read the key data and findings...
Dr Philippe Adam, sociologist and prevention scientist at NCHSR, was asked for his thoughts on the implications of these finding for the development and range of sexual health programs in the future. “Recent sexual health promotion campaigns have certainly not deliberately excluded young gay men, but often they have not directly targeted them either. This may explain why a significant number of young men in the survey reported no exposure to sexual health campaigns. Additionally, the style, iconography and topics in most recent campaigns were perhaps more in
line with the sexual health needs of more mature, highly sexually active gay men who are often referred to as ‘sexually adventurous gay men’. The survey results indicate that focussing sexual health promotion efforts on these men alone is not sufficient. Clearly a new generation of campaigns needs to be created to meet the sexual health needs of young gay men and to capture their attention in novel and imaginative ways. It is important that young gay men see themselves reflected in these campaigns if these campaigns are to have the desired impact on the knowledge, attitudes and
behaviours of younger gay men”.
* The survey was conducted by the National Centre in HIV Social Research, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
The project has been funded by the HARP Unit, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, and has benefitted from the support of the STI in Gay Men Action group (STIGMA), ACON and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).
Depression report launched
Supported by beyondblue with funding from The Movember Foundation, NCHSR recently conducted a secondary analysis of previously collected data to explore how, in general practice, alcohol and drug use might impact on the diagnosis and management of depression among gay men.
We found that men who used three or more types of drugs in the previous six months were three times more likely to have major depression than other men. However, this was the only drug-use variable that was independently associated with major depression.
Both doctors and their patients felt there was a complex relationship between drug use and depression, but whereas doctors were concerned with the health effects of drug use, patients talked about the beneficial role that drugs played in their lives. There was good agreement between doctors’ assessments of major depression and patients’ scores on a screening tool for depression but agreement was lower when men reported frequent use of crystal methamphetamine.
Three journal articles were published and an online Research Summary, launched in January 2012, describes the key findings of these papers.
Rewards and challenges of providing HIV care in general practice
NCHSR’s HIV General Practice Workforce Project has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council to explore contemporary workforce issues affecting general practitioners who provide HIV care in both high and low HIV-caseload settings around Australia.
Two articles have now been published from the first stage of this project. Twenty-four ‘key informants’ were interviewed for this first stage, that is, individuals working in senior positions in organisations which influence HIV care policy and practice in Australia, including government, non-government and professional/education organisations. Together, this group of interview participants represent every state and territory in Australia, a broad range of professional backgrounds, and expertise across the diversity of national, state and
population-specific policy issues relating to this topic.
The first paper explores how key informants characterised GPs as being ‘moved’ to take up and maintain a special interest in HIV medicine by the clinical, professional and political dimensions of the role of HIV doctor, with the political dimensions often described as the most distinctive compared to other areas of general practice medicine:
Newman, C.E., Kidd, M.R., de Wit, J.B., Reynolds, R.H., Canavan, P.G., Kippax, S.C. (2011). What moves a family doctor to specialise in HIV? Interviews with Australian policy key informants. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 13, 1151–1164. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2011.607904
The second paper was an invited contribution to a special issue of sexually transmissible infections on ‘Health Systems for HIV Care and Treatment’. The investigators were very pleased to have been offered the chance to contribute an Australian perspective, particularly as the editorial noted that it is one of only two that focuses on current experiences and challenges in developed countries:
Newman, C.E., de Wit, J.B., Kippax, S.C., Reynolds, R.H., Canavan, P.G., Kidd, M.R. (2012). The role of the general practitioner in the Australian approach to HIV care: Interviews with ‘key informants’ from government, non-government and professional organisations. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 88, 132–135. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/sextrans-2011-050130
Publications focussing on interviews with clinicians will be reported in forthcoming issues of this newsletter.